Muzzleloader Barrel
length vs velocity test

Muzzleloader manufacturers are making barrels longer and longer. We as shooters, hunters and consumers instantly believe that there must be value to more barrel. We secretly believe those precious few extra inches will cure all the woes. More velocity with better accuracy; win, win.

So rather than guess and wonder, I thought I should do an experiment. It so happens that I have identical .50 caliber smokeless barrels for my Savage Model 11; the short one is 23" and the long one is 28 1/4". Both take the same breech plug with the same vent liner. Perfect candidates for my test; one shorter than most and the other longer than most.

Each barrel was cleaned, then fouled with a single shot and then shot through our Oehler 35P to record the data. I used a sample of 3 shots for each barrel and took the average. The selected charge was 59 grains of Reloader 7 with a 330 grain .45 caliber bullet in a MMP HPH 24 sabot. The ignition was our LRVF adapters with a WLR primer. The breech plug had a new .033" vent liner.

17 fps per inch. 5 1/4" of additional barrel length netted 90 fps more. The accuracy is identical; both barrels shoot between 1.5" and 2" groups at 175 yards. The shot to shot variation in velocity was less than 4 fps and again was unaffected by the length of the pipe. For those interested, the 28 1/4" barrel averaged 1950 fps while the 23" barrel averaged 1860 fps. The first screen of our Oehler was out at 25 yards so you can probably add 35-50 fps to correct for the muzzle.

So, if accuracy and velocity are the main criteria driving you to selecting a new ML based on barrel length, you may want to think again.

Hopefully you find this info helpful.
Cecil Epp

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